I was quite shocked to read a blog post this week about job applications actually asking for your Facebook log in details before they consider you for a job!

Apparently an application form has come to light in North Carolina for an admin job in a police department where it asks for any social media logins.

Whilst we’ve all been told time and time again to make sure that you lock down what you make public on Facebook so your employer or future employer can’t see unsuitable stuff, this aims to check out if you’re into anything naughty (such as having any gang affiliations) that you’re hiding from your public profile.

But, I ask, why now? Why Facebook? Why social media? Before Facebook and MySpace came along your boss didn’t ask for your email password. They didn’t ask for your snail mail address book, to hang out with you at weekends to see where you go or to sit on your sofa for a week to see who comes to your house.

What is this paranoia around social media? I guess the argument is that Facebook makes it easy for you to communicate with lots of people and it makes it easy for someone with your password to see a snapshot of your whole life in one place.

And maybe somehow, whilst Facebook is obviously taken seriously in this respect, it’s not seen as such a serious realm as your email or your bank details – imagine if your boss asked for your Internet banking log in to check you weren’t receiving bribes from the mafia! So that’s why it’s deemed OK to ask for your login?

Maryland Department of Corrections have apparently told the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) it had checked out social media accounts of 2,689 applicants, and turned down jobs to 7 people based on what they found there. The ACLU apparently slapped their wrist and put a stop to it but reports claim that that just led to bosses looking over people’s shoulders whilst they were logged in to check them out that way instead. (And that you might not have prior notice of, whereas at least if you’re asked for your password on a form and you really want the job, you can clean up your account if you need to first.)

I know we need to move with the times – of course I know that in my job – and so perhaps Facebook just opens up this window into someone’s life whereas the curtains were more tightly drawn before. But to me, it does just feel like a paranoia around social media that didn’t exist before hand. If you didn’t used to check their email or interview their friends, then you shouldn’t need to check their Facebook.

Would you give your boss your Facebook password? I certainly wouldn’t!